Marty, Connie Share Stories, Artifacts

This appeared on Country Hound - February 14, 2008

Marty Stuart and Connie Smith donated several artifacts from his memorabilia warehouse to the Country Music Hall of Fame yesterday. The couple also talked about the unique evolution of their relationship, and their marriage more than 10 years ago.

As a teenager, Marty kept the cover of one of Connie’s albums in his bedroom, and when he met her at a concert in the early-1970s, he predicted to his mother that he would one day marry Connie. Some 20 years later, they were both members of the Grand Ole Opry, and he was enlisted to produce an album for her.

Marty recalls that on a rainy night in a Kroger parking lot, Connie was talking non-stop in her car. He told her to shut up, then kissed her, waiting for her to slap him. Her response, instead: “Let's do that again!”

When the couple married in 96-degree heat on an Indian reservation in South Dakota in July 1997, one of the tribesmen told Marty that if they saw an eagle the day they were married, it would be a successful union, and sure enough, an eagle flew overhead as they drove to the ceremony. At the same time, a song by Lester Flatt — Marty's former employer — came on the radio.

After the wedding, Marty and Connie drove their rental car out into the wilderness and ended up on a cliff dancing to Buck Owens’ “Your Tender Loving Care.” They performed the song together during the donation ceremony.

Of their marriage, Marty says simply, “It's the greatest thing I ever did. Everything else I've ever done pales in comparison to Connie.”

In addition to the 1950 Martin D-28 guitar that belonged to Lester Flatt, the couple donated the Dobro played by Roy Nichols on the opening measures of Merle Haggard's “Mama Tried,” along with boots and a Manuel jacket worn by Johnny Cash, the satchel Hank Williams used to carry his songs, and the suitcase and overcoat Hank was traveling with on the night he died.

Connie gave the museum an acetate of her first RCA recording session, in which she recorded her No. 1 debut single, “Once a Day.”

Guests at the museum's Ford Theater included Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, Earl Scruggs and WSM radio personality Eddie Stubbs.

By Stephen L. Betts

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